Since it dropped last week, at least as far as the interwebs are concerned, I've been listening to Eminem's MMLP2 album and trying to figure out how to feel about it. Albums this big deserve more than one listen or even one day of continuous listening. But even after a few days straight I'm still struggling to figure it out.
Eminem's still rapping his ass off, but there are times on MMLP2 when I find myself wishing I didn't just hear what I heard. So as long as I was so divided, I thought I'd have to go through the entire album, line for line, and do a combo "Rap Lines That Are Fucking Dope" and "Rap Lines That Make No Fucking Sense."
Because I'm an obsessive-compulsive rap nerd, that's why.
So without further delay, here's the lyrical best and worst of Slim Shady's latest...
Best: "I'm the nightmare you fell asleep in and woke up still in / I'm your karma closing in with each stroke of a pen / Perfect time to have some remorse to show for your sin"
Hard to pick out just one line in a song that's one of the album's best, and perhaps one of the best songs Eminem's done in years. It's nearly impossible to do a sequel to "Stan", but he pulled it off both on a storytelling tip and on a deeper/emotional level, like above.
Worst: "So I sneak vengefully and treat your bedroom window / Like I reach my full potential, I peeked [peaked]"
This is going to come up repeatedly in the worst section. For some reason on MMLP2 Em insists on force-feeding us not particularly clever punchlines, something Lil Wayne has also repeatedly become obsessed with.
“Rhyme Or Reason”
Best: "It's like handing a psycho a loaded handgun / Michelangelo with a paint gun in a tantrum / About to explode all over the canvas"
Bonus Best: "(Who's your daddy?) I don't have one / My mother reproduced like a komodo dragon"
Michelangelo with a handgun is one of the better descriptions of Eminem you're going to hear, so it's fitting that it came from the man himself. Plus, I'm a fan of anyone who can rap accurately about Komodo dragon facts.
Worst: "So bitch, if you shoot me a look it better be a blank stare / Or get shanked in the pancreas, I'm angrier than / All 8 of the reindeer put together with Chief Keef / Cause I hate every fucking thing, yeah"
So...Santa's eight reindeer were really angry? (Or to put it in mathematical terms, Reindeer anger x 8 + Chief Keef Anger = Chief Keef Anger). So why are we talking about reindeer? I know it's an off-rhyme with "blank stare', but it still has to make sense.
“So Much Better”
Best: "Long as I got a bat and two balls it's foul / But my dick's on strike so all that love shit is null and void"
It doesn't have to be super lyrical rap, sometimes I'll gladly just take a quality obscene line from Eminem.
Worst: "That little boo-boo face / Cause I'm hanging up this phone, boo / You make my fucking Bluetooth ache / You feeling blue too late / Go smurf yourself you make me wanna smurfin' puke blue Kool-Aid"
Nothing says "angry" like replacing "fuck" with "Smurf" and throwing up blue Kool-Aid, because smurfs are blue because that has nothing to do with anything.
Best: "Wasn't ready to be no millionaire, I was ill-prepared / I was prepared to be ill though, the skill was there / From the beginning, it wasn't 'bout the ends / It was 'bout busting raps and standing for something, fuck an acronym"
Bonus Best: "To the side of a pump, 0 to 60 hop in and gun it / Like G-Unit without the hyphen, I'm hyping em up."
Throughout the album, more mature Em offers some excellent analysis of his career, and he fucking sums it up perfectly here. Plus, that G-Unit line is a perfect example of dropping a dope punchline without screaming "hey, look at this clever punchline!!!" like he did with peaked/peeked on "Bad Guy."
Worst: "I must be allergic to failure cause everytime I come close to it / I just sneeze, but I just go achoo [at you] then achieve!"
Really? Really though?
Best: "Bothers me but now my father, he said sayonara, then split / But I don’t give a shit I’m fine as long as / There's batteries in my Walkman nothing is the matter with me"
Bonus Best: Dope Onyx and Tribe Called Quest references.
An outstanding description of how Eminem used music to hide from his pain, and the power for music to take away a lot of that pain, or at least mask it. Plus, those are some of the better rap nerd references you're going to hear.
Worst: "Me against the world so what? I'm Brian Dawkins / Versus the whole 0 and 16 Lions offense / So bring on the Giants, Falcons and Miami Dolphins"
More confusing than anything. You're retired safety Brian Dawkins? Playing the 0-16 Lions team from 2008, who had a terrible offense? Uh, I guess that's impressive, or not, or...I have no idea what's going on here.
“Asshole” ft. Skylar Grey
Best: "Came to the world at a time when it was in need of a villain / An asshole, that role I think I succeed in fulfilling / Don't think I ever stopped to think I was speaking to children / Everything was happening so fast, it was like I blinked, sold three million"
Bonus Best: It's poetry in motion, like Freddie Roach when he's quoting Shakespeare.
Yet another excellent description of his career and his impact on American culture, plus of the few truly funny/offensive/offensively funny punchlines on the album (Freddie Roach has Parkinson's.)
Worst: "That's like telling Gwen Stefan' that she sold out / Cause I was tryna leave, no doubt"
That line would have killed in 2001.
Best: "The art of MCing mixed with da Vinci and MC Ren / And I don't mean Stimpy's friend, bitch / Been Public Enemy since you thought PE was gym, bitch"
Call back to the Michelangelo reference on "Rhyme or Reason", woven into some pretty dope NWA, Public Enemy and, because of course, "Ren & Stimpy" references.
Worst: "And girl, I ain't got no money to borrow / But I am trying to find a way to get you alone [a loan] (car note)"
More of that Lil Wayne bad pun/forced punchline rap. Eh.
Best: "Rappers are hungry looking at me like it's lunchtime / I know there was a time where once I was King of the Underground / But I still rap like I'm on my Pharoahe Monch grind"
As I wrote at the time, this album is filled with rap nerd references, and this might just be the biggest Pharoahe Monch shout out of all-time. I have to salute that.
Worst: "Like when Fabolous made Ray J mad / Cause Fab said he looked like a fag at Mayweather’s pad / Singin' to a man while they played piano/ Man, oh man, that was a 24/7 special on the cable channel / So Ray J went straight to the radio station the very next day / Hey Fab, I'mma kill you"
Bonus Worst: "They said I rap like a robot, so call me rapbot"
Why is Eminem devoting an entire 8 lines to a Ray J vs. Fabolous fake beef everyone had forgotten until he said it? Another common theme on MMLP2 is Eminem struggling to make truly contemporary pop culture references. More on that later...
Best: "Who the fuck would've thought one little lone MC would be able to take the whole culture and re-upholstery it"
Again, an excellent summation of Eminem's rap career and place in the game.
Worst: "I'm bout to clean house, yo / I'm Lysol, now I'm just household"
You see, people clean their homes with Lysol, and now he's a household name. Get it? DO YOU GET IT???
“Stronger Than I Was”
I really don't know what to do with an entire song of Eminem singing. Let's just move on, nothing to see here people.
“The Monster” ft. Rihanna
Best: "No, I ain't much of a poet but I know somebody /Once told me to seize the moment and don't squander it"
Bonus Best: "I think you've been wandering off down yonder / And stumbled onto Jeff VanVonderen / Cause I need an interventionist to intervene between me and this monster"
It takes some real balls to kick off a song with a reference to your own song, but when that song is one of the best hip-hop songs ever made, you're allowed to have balls that big. Speaking of cojones, shout out to the first Jeff VanVonderen reference in rap history.
Worst: "Turn nothing into something, still can make that, straw into gold chump / I will spin Rumpelstiltskin in a haystack"
For those who don't remember their fairy tales, Rumpelstiltskin is the crazy little magic dude who helped the miller's daughter turn straw into gold. So...I have no idea what spinning Rumpelstiltskin in a haystack even means. Unless he thinks spinning Rumpelstiltskin (is he literally somehow tying Rumpelstiltskin to the spinning wheel?) will somehow produce more straw into gold? Let's move on, I've already spent way too long thinking about this.
Best: "Jed Clampett, Redd Sanford welfare mentality helps to / Keep me grounded, that's why I never take full advantage of wealth... Still cramming the shelves full of hamburger helper... Creature of habit, feel like I'm trapped in an animal shelter"
Again, just an extraordinary description of Eminem's split-personalities when it comes to being absurdly wealthy but also still stuck in that poor mentality.
Worst: "My apologies, no disrespect to technology / But what the heck is all of these buttons? / You expect me to sit here and learn that? / Fuck I gotta do to hear this new song from Luda? / Be an expert at computers?"
The most depressing moments on MMLP2 is when he sounds like an out of touch old guy, and this is the worst example. Even the way he says "expert at computers" makes him sound like my grandmother.
“Love Game” ft. Kendrick Lamar
Best: "Think I might be about Busta Busta...Cause my head already goes to worst case Scenario, though, in the first place / But you confirmed my Low End Theory, though / Should've known when I made it all the way to 3rd Base."
Between this, "Rap God", "Bezerk" and a few other, this album is filled with old-school hip-hop references. If it makes even one younger fan looks up some of the groups he mentions, it will be more than worth it.
Worst: "I confess I'm a static addict, I guess that's why I'm so clingy"
Cause static clingy. That's why. * bad pun groan noise*
“Headlights” ft. Nate Ruess
Best: "Then Nate got taken away by the state at 8-years-old, and / That's when I realized you were sick and it wasn't fixable or changeable / And to this day we remained estranged and I hate it though"
Exactly the kind of emotionally gripping, intensely autobiographical material that first made Eminem so impossible to ignore. Absolutely excellent song that doesn't have a single bad line.
Best: "Now I've been hip-hop in its tip top form / Since N.W.A. was blaring through my car windows leaning on the horn / Screaming ''fuck the police' like cop porn / Flipped rap on its ear like I dropped coin / Fuck top 5, bitch, I'm top 4 / And that includes Biggie and Pac, whore / And I got an evil twin, so who do you think that's 3rd and that 4th spot's for?"
I fucking love that Eminem/Marshall Mathers just came out and says that he's top four, and he's holding down two of the spot between himself and Slim Shady. There are only small, small handful of rappers who could get away with spitting a line like this, great to hear Em go for it.
Worst: "Cause I'm so sick of being the truth I wish somebody finally admit me / Into a mental hospital with Britney / Oh, LMFAO, no way, ho / Jose Baez couldn't beat this rap, OJ no / Hooray, I'm off the hook like Casey Anthony"
It'd be ridiculous to say that Eminem's fell off as a rapper, he's clearly still one of the best, but the part of his rap game that has fallen off is his pop culture reference skills. There was a day when he was legitimately pissing off some of the most famous people in the world, now he's taking shots at Ray J and still making fun of Britney Spears?